Cirque Du Soleil for Your Health


5 Reasons to try Alternative Fitness

  • It doesn’t feel like working out.
  • Its right next to Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. Perfect for any Georgian!
  • It teaches you real life, world advice.
  • There’s an internationally renowned fitness coach.
  • It’s like riding a roller coaster without the expensive park tickets.


On Saturday morning, in a glass windowed studio off of Victory Drive, I found myself 7 feet in the air being told to let go and just fall. “You just have to trust that the fabric will catch you,” they said. Last time I was in this part of town, I was trying the new Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl. This time, I was taking a silks class with Sabrina Madsen, International Pole Fitness competitor. In fact, she actually went to Liechtenstein with two others to represent the United States in the World Pole Sport Championships this December. So needless to say, I was a bit intimidated.

Prior to attending this class, I had always wondered about alternative forms of fitness training. Parkour isn’t too popular in Savannah. And adult gymnastics classes for beginners are quite hard to find, as some of my fellow classmates told me. Then there are studios like Orange Theory or Boot Camps, which seem to appeal to those of a masochistic persuasion. And I’ll tell you right now, you’ll never see me in a Zumba class. But the circus inspired training seems to be coming out of the performance halls and into the city at large.


If that first paragraph tells you anything about me, it's that I like fast food and I also like adrenaline. I like to think I’m pretty well-rounded. So naturally, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and start falling, or hanging on silks, for that matter. I also had plans to run the 8th annual Savannah Reindeer Run for South Magazine in December, which benefited the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire. So in addition to my weekly training for the race, I was looking for a new way to do conditioning training aside from your average gym. Lat pulls and squats don’t have quite the same ring to them as “starfish pose.” When I found out that Savannah’s third Circus Studio had opened only two months ago, and that it had a world class athlete for an owner, I decided to give it a go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?


I wish I could tell you that I sprained an ankle and had to pull out of the Reindeer Run, and that I finished with a #5 combo at Chick-fil-A. Instead, I showed up, signed my waiver, and was assured that anyone who can walk up a flight of stairs can participate. I was also assured there is no need to be strong to start learning tricks, a big concern of mine. In fact, the age of clients in the studio range from 4 to 70.


I signed up for a silks hammocks class with Savannah Cirque. You know the acts you see in Cirque du Soleil where the participants are hanging in the air, suspended by fabric? That’s the one! The class was small in size but high in energy. It was a non-competitive environment, despite the students varying in experience. I was surprised by how supportive my fellow classmates were. In total, there were five of us, plus the instructor. We started off with a quick stretch and warm up, to activate the muscles. Immediately after, I was already being taught the proper way to get into the silks hammocks. Before I knew it, I successfully managed my first upside-down pose. About halfway into the class, I had learned “gazelle” and “pigeon.”’ Those are the ones seen in professional performances and I was doing it! The look of discomfort on my face was the only thing separating me from the graceful acts of Cirque du Soleil.


By the end of my first class, I had learned enough to try my first free fall. The “final act” as Sabrina Madsen called it. I was to ascend 7 feet into the air, mounting myself into what is called “chair pose.” From there, I would fall forward into a front flip, then catch myself at ground level, suspended by the silks. Let’s just say I was terrified. Lucky for me, so was everyone else.


In this moment, Sabrina gave a brilliant pep-talk. She said that you may feel out of control, but you’re not. When you’re at the top of the room, suspended in the air, you have to make the choice to fall. That’s the scariest part. When you’re ready, you let yourself go, knowing full well that you’ve wrapped yourself up in the fabric in a way that won’t fail you. She compared it to some of life’s biggest moments – the ones we prepare for all our lives. I wish I would have taken this class before my job interview with South!


With Sabrina coaching me every step of the way, I just went for it. And I didn’t fall on the floor. I didn’t break my neck. I actually managed it! I accomplished something I thought was only reserved for the most trained of professionals. And I did two more flips that class.


I realized at the end of the class that this wasn’t just an alternative fitness class. It teaches you to put the practice in to accomplish your goals. I walked out of that studio feeling like I worked hard for something. It wasn’t embarrassing or awkward. It was raw, and honest, and fun. It was about finding comfort in ideas that make you uncomfortable. It made me realize that there is something more that just fitness found in these small, creative studio spaces. You challenge yourself physically, but you’re also walking away with lessons you can apply in your everyday life.


Sabrina Madsen MSSM, CSCS
Owner of First City Fitness & Savannah Cirque, 2127 1/2 E Victory Dr, Savannah, GA 31404
(801) 673-6737